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SVMR panel: Manufacturing training available, but where are the students?


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From left, panelists Handzar, Chissell, Lynch, and moderator Hupman

Last week OED hosted Silicon Valley Manufacturing Roundtable 2016. One of the panels was planned to highlight the need of Silicon Valley companies for trained manufacturing workers . The panel consisted of Michael Chissell, who runs training programs for San Jose-based MASS Precision; Alyssa Lynch, superintendent of MetroEd, a vocational training center in San Jose that works with 1,500 high school and continuing education students each year; and Mirza Handzar, who works on custom training programs for employers at work2future, part of the local Workforce Development Board. Nakisa Hupman, work2future, served as moderator.

The panel focused on ways that private, public, and non-profit sectors can collaborate to address workforce needs in the manufacturing sector. The three organizations represented are responding to the structural challenges of workforce training and development in manufacturing. MASS’s Chissell said that a year ago, he was looking for a way to partner with local organization to augment some of the company’s training needs. That’s when the phone rang.

“I remember receiving a phone call from work2future asking me if I had any interest in putting any employees through a beginning and intermediate welding program, free of charge,” said Chissell.  “My first question was, what’s the catch? But I soon came to realize that this was a tremendous program and an opportunity for MASS to upskill many of its existing employees.” MASS is now working with work2future on creating a program for training brake operators and plans to enroll several of its employees in a CNC program in January.

Handzar of work2future congratulated MASS on many of the successful programs they have taken part in and encouraged other employers to get involved. “MASS is a great example of how work2future can partner with local employers to promote up-skilling of their workforce.” he said. “We cover the costs of training for employees, whether it is through a formal curriculum program or helping cover a new employee’s on-the-job training. Our message to manufacturers is: if you are having challenges training or acquiring employees, come talk to us.”

MetroEd’s Lynch cast a more somber note:  “I was very excited to speak today on this subject. We have a School of Manufacturing at MetroEd full of new equipment that I am very sad to say is grossly underutilized. We have students, we have the facility, we have partners like work2future to fund programs, but we need employers to come talk to our students and get them interested in a career in manufacturing.”

Lynch went on to explain how the defunding of programs like wood and metal shop in school and the rise of subjects like computer sciences and animation have eroded high school students’ awareness and interest in some traditional trades and vocations. “There is a large subset of the students we work with for whom a traditional four-year college program does not make the most sense,” she said. “For students with the right skills, manufacturing can provide stable and meaningful employment, but I am willing to bet that most of my students would be shocked to know that we still build things here in Silicon Valley.”

Turning back toward the audience, Lynch gave the call to action: “To all the employers in the room: I have a manufacturing training facility that operates a few hours a week with only kids in the class. I would like to see all the classes filled, 18 hours a day. If you want to collaborate on facility tour, a career day, adult training, open house, anything—we want to work with you. Come talk to us.”

For more information about MetroEd, please contact Alyssa Lynch at alynch@metroed.net or visit the school’s website at http://www.metroed.net/.

For more information about Work2Future, please contact David Lovato at David Lovato david.lovato@work2futurefoundation.org or visit http://www.work2future.biz/.

For more information about MASS Precision’s in-house training work, please contact Michael Chissell at michael@massprecision.com or visit the company’s website at http://www.massprecision.com/.

Read our blogpost on the local manufacturing panel at SVMR.